How much can one person fit in a few hundred square feet? How much does one want to?
Architect Gary Chang
calls his 330-square-foot apartment in Hong Kong the "domestic transformer", but we think that moniker is better suited for the architect himself. By designing a system of sliding walls and innovations -- like the guest bed that folds down over the bathtub -- Chang transformed his childhood home into a 24-room apartment. While his renovations are wildly inspired, here at ShelterPop we couldn't shake the feeling that this metamorphosing home was better in concept than in reality.
We checked in with the impeccably organized and notorious neat-freak Robert Verdi
to see if he could see himself living here. Well, let's just say his honest and opinionated response doesn't quite align with mine but hey, practicality is in the eye of the beholder, right? So, who's side are you on? Read on then cast your vote below!
There's your lifestyle goal and there's your lifestyle reality. My goal is to be a minimalist, but in fact I'm a maximalist. So while this apartment is a little antithetical to my actual life, it does turn me on. First off, you're taking up less space on the planet, which is great. Rich and famous people get these 50,000 square-foot homes, and then a second home on top of that, but when you read a lot of the sociological studies about how much space people actually use, it's 1,500 square feet for two people. That raises your awareness and in turn you keep less stuff. If you watch "The Story of Stuff
" (an online film created to expose the "hidden environmental and social consequences of America's love affair with its stuff"), it illustrates why you want to keep less and how we're destroying and corrupting the planet at a rapid rate.
This apartment takes a little more motivation than just walking into the guestroom; you first have to turn the tub off and flip the bed down for your guest. But I don't think it's that stressful to do. It's brilliantly economical in terms of space management and money management. Me, I live in a space that's just over 1,500 square feet after trading down from a bigger place – 2,800 square feet. I didn't need three bathrooms. And I think it's actually easier to have less. It's interesting how your tastes change when you grow up -- my old place was very homey, with big comfy sofas. But it was easier to maintain because it had an easy elegance to it. My new place is like a high class *****'s house. It's very shiny, very polished, very mirrored. A complete nightmare to maintain.
With Chang's apartment, everything is articulate. The complete wall moves to open the kitchen -- it's one move only, like opening a cabinet. And remember, things like sleeper sofas are just product versions of what he did. I have a friend who lives on 5th Avenue in Manhattan and she's looking for new place. I said "Why are you moving? You have a great location!" She said: "I just want to be able to stand up in my bedroom." And you know what? Chang would have made that happen.
Amy Preiser of ShelterPop:
This home is a real feat of beauty, ingenuity and eco-consciousness -- virtues I admire and strive towards, but ones that ultimately don't sync up with my lifestyle. This apartment is for someone with a streamlined, effortlessly-organized way of living, not someone who drops their grocery bags on the floor immediately upon entering.
The person who lives here probably always bikes to the store and remembers to bring reusable bags. They make their bed in the morning. They lay out their clothes the night before. Me? I lay out a few outfits the night before, and come morning, toss them on the floor once I've decided on something different. My motto is less "everything in its place", more "there's space for everything!" That's how many a curbside-found chairs made their way into my living room, how all the vases (and vases and vases) crept onto my bookshelves. In terms of square footage per person, my situation is not so different from Chang's. With two people in my 700-square-foot one-bedroom, I occupy all 350 square-feet of my space comfortably. While all his rooms take turns as the main event, mine all live in harmony -- or at least, a sort of jumbled, laundry-on-the-sofa, harmony. My kitchen/living room/office/dining room is all one big space where I can float from activity to activity without officially shutting down the one before. In the middle of cooking, I stop to watch some TV or answer emails. While eating dinner I might get up ,mid-meal, to walk into the bedroom and change into something warmer. There's an uninterrupted flow to my home, a type of sprawl that keeps it comfortable, easy and personal, one that allows for bags on the floor at the entrance and a bathtub that's not always so clean that I'd welcome guests to sleep atop it.
Then again, this version of Chang's apartment is the fourth iteration of the space -- and his book
about the processes dips into biographical territory, citing the fact that the apartment's changes are a reflection of the architect's wants and needs. So who knows -- maybe with some time I'll want a dramatic change, a place that's a total Chang-clone. But that's not to say that my current life disagrees with 100% of his masterful ideas. In a word: hammock. Who can argue with that?